How Games Make Money

Nov 27, 2014 | 1 Votes by Adeaphon 10 rate Your vote
There are lots and lots of games and players all over the world, but how do these developers fund themselves and continue to produce these games that we love? WWGDB - How Games Make Money

With the rise of the gaming industry, advances in technology and the option to use a variety of payment methods, game developers now have a large amount of tools they can use to fund themselves and keep producing brilliant games. In this article we will discuss what many of those options are and how they affect the games that you enjoy playing.

When computer games were young, going back a good few years, the majority of them were solo play games, either on a console or early PC. They would be developed, and then released to stores to be sold off the shelf as a complete game for an up front price. Once you purchased the game it was yours and you could play as often as you liked.

This model has worked well for a long time, and is still used by a lot of developers today especially on console games, though there is still a large PC gamer community too. There are several benefits as a customer when you buy games like this, you know that you have the complete game and you can get it home and play straight away. You also know what the price is when you buy it, and if you play on a budget, you can find games to suit it. For the developers, it is a little more risky, as they have to front the cost of creating the game then make it back, but there are an awful lot of very good games that people will buy so it is actually a pretty safe bet to run this kind of game off the shelves.

As the internet became much bigger it opened up the way for games where you could play with other people, or share information and updates made by players for games. This also opened up a whole new batch of gaming genres, including Virtual Worlds and MMO games. With the ability to add to a game, came the option of buying the new content, often for a lower price than the full game and adding this new gameplay to your collection. These additional expansions to games became ever more popular as time went on.

This also led to a new idea for games, if people are willing to buy small additions to games, maybe they are willing to pay a small amount each month to keep on playing a game. This was especially true of MMO games and still continues today. A prime example is World of Warcraft where you pay each month to access and use the game. There are over 10 million subscribers, at one point there were 12 million plus people playing all over the world. Suddenly those small monthly fees can add up quite quickly.

Candy Crush


On the heels of the success of this kind of game there are now lots of games, across a variety of niches that use monthly subscriptions. But what if you don’t want to pay each month, but you still want to enjoy a game? A model that came out from the Chinese industry was that of the free to play game. You can enjoy the game, for free, with options to buy extras, or improved content. There are several different variations on this theme too, and you see it across lots of different games.

The first and probably most popular option many people see is the approach taken in most casual games, where there is a currency that you can use to buy special powers, or boosters. Most notably, and perhaps the biggest grossing of these is Candy Crush Saga. In the game you can buy Gold Bars, these allow you to buy a huge range of boosters that will give you in game bonuses. They can also be used to buy more lives, or extra moves if you are close to completing a level. Although these gold bars are not free and you will need to spend real money on them if you want to use them. There are often different packages to suit different budgets or needs and it can all be completed at the click of a button.

Another use of this method is where you can pay to upgrade your account to a VIP account, often with a series of benefits in game, and exclusive content just for those that have this membership. You can either buy them directly or spend the equivalent of gold bars on this membership. There are a few games that follow this rule such as: League of Angels , S.K.I.L.L Special Forces 2 and Avataria. Each game has unique benefits and different costs, but the result is the same kind of payment model.

League of Angels


There are a few games that use something entirely different, but on the same basic principle. You can play the game, entirely for free, and enjoy every aspect of it and see all of it. But there is the opportunity for you to help yourself by buying the in game currency, we will use Second Life as an example, as this is one of the biggest and most well know examples. Second Life is a virtual world, where you can explore everywhere and create what you want. In this virtual world you spend something called Linden Dollars, just like you would in the real world, if you want a new jacket, you spend a few Linden Dollars and get it.

Where this differs is that you can spend a small amount of real money, for a larger amount of Linden Dollars direct from the developers, as well as a lot of third party sellers too. The reason we mention this separately is that this sale of virtual currency has become incredibly popular and is worth an estimated $6 Billion a year across the whole world and market. This direct currency exchange lets you buy mansions, sports cars, even whole islands in a virtual world, for a much smaller amount of real world money.

Having said all of that, how you can pay for the games we all love to play, there are still places, especially online where you can find games that are genuinely free to play. You dont have to pay anything, there are no boosters or special currencies and you can see and play through the whole game. Often aimed at the casual market they tend to be simple games with simple graphics, but you can find them and play them, which is still a great thing and there are a few very good free games.
Second Life


We feel it is also worth mentioning those games that come through finance programs like Kick Starter. There are a few being developed now, or still running their campaigns where they are pre funded by us players, and if we donate up front there are benefits to us for doing so, sometimes this is free copies of the game, or special in game items, even characters being created in your image. This is an incredibly clever and diverse way to have a game made, and it also means that we, as the players can be a part of it far more than we could before these options existed.

So, there we have some of the ways that games companies will generate the money they need to keep on making the games we love to play. This is by no means a complete list, there are a few more ways that we pay for games, but on the other side there are a lot of games that we can experience and try for free, even complete too. But companies can’t continue to give us what we want for free, so as players we don’t mind paying for those things we enjoy. Sometimes a game is just worth what you put into it, and at the end of the day, if you enjoy something enough to pay for it then that can only be a good thing. And it gives the developers the chance to make something else we enjoy, or add to that game that you play all the time.

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